Sunderland have announced that they are to open a Supporters Club Branch in North Korea, in what is being described as an attempt to ‘turn the DPRK Red and White’.
The project will be run by lifelong Sunderland supporter Tom Fowdy, who currently lives in the North Korean capital Pyongyang, where he organises visits for tourists to visit the communist nation.
Sunderland aren’t the first English side to have an affinity with North Korea, with non-league outfit Blyth Spartans having an advertising deal with Fowdy’s Visit North Korea company, which has been in place since December 2018.
The Black Cats have been doing plenty of work of late to increase interest in the club, famously filming the Netflix documentary ‘Sunderland ‘Til I Die’, which showed the ongoings during the club’s relegation season from the Championship.
On the Netflix series, Fowdy told the club’s official website: "It's been eye opening to see the mistakes and disappointments which brought our club down. It's tough to take sometimes, but I cannot say I am not happy with the publicity our club has been able to receive. It's been good for our profile."
It may not have been the successful PR coverage they were hoping for as they dropped further down the football pyramid down to League One, rather than return to the Premier League at the first time of asking like they had planned. However, as Fowdy notes, it's certainly helped raise the profile of the club.
The Far East market is one of the most lucrative in football, with fan bases in Asia growing all the time, though North Korea is one country that has been left largely untouched by the top clubs. However, Sunderland are now looking to become pioneers in the communist state by becoming the most-supported side there.